PEKIN — There is a new chapter in life for Shannon Cox of Pekin. She was named the new director of the Peoria Art Guild. She joined the Guild on Nov. 1 and hit the ground running.
“It’s everything I ever wanted,” she said. “I’ve got lots of ideas.”
Cox has been involved with art for years and her experiences led her to her new position. She formed the Pekin Academy of Fine Arts when it was located inside the Speakeasy in downtown Pekin. Although it is no longer there, Cox is thrilled to be in her new role.
In March 2018 she got a phone call from an Executive Board Member asking her to help with the Peoria Fine Art Fair that September. Cox agreed and co-chaired the event with Kim Sanders. That event led to her new job as director.
“The Fine Art Fair is one of the top three events in Peoria,” Cox said. “I got my feet wet through that experience.”
It was a big undertaking with 130 artists from all over the U.S. who came to Peoria in the fall. Cox said volunteers are a vital part of making the event a success. Anyone wishing to volunteer can visit the website www.peoriaartguild.org for more information.
“The Fine Art Fair is juried which means we put an artist callout and artists submit samples of their work,” said Cox. “A blind jury of five people looks at their work, the set-up of their booth and they score them. We take the highest scores and invite them to the fair. The day of the fair there are two judges who award prizes. We gave $7,000 in cash prizes.”
There were activities for children to do as well. That is another aspect of Cox’s job she wants to promote — children and the fine arts. The Kids Art Festival was within the Peoria Fine Art Fair. Illinois State University conducted several engaging STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) activities, the Peoria Playhouse brought their Destination Playground and there were five crafts children could make.
The Peoria Art Guild offers classes to adults and children. In December there will be a class called Creative Arts Discovery Club that will meet on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Guild located at 203 Harrison St. in Peoria. They also have a pottery studio and a metalworks room.
Cox said she feels the fine arts community is growing and thriving. There are many different art groups or groups that promote art that Cox would like to work with and bring those community art groups together.
“I would like to see how to mesh ideas and figure out how we can support each other,” she said.
The Peoria Art Guild is partnering with Bradley University and other arts organizations for an international traveling art exhibit in the spring. They will also be participating in First Fridays in the new year and will be open on the first Friday of the month for the evening’s event.
Cox said the Peoria Art Guild went three to four years without a director and had been sustained by the Executive Board Members and Governing Board Members.
“The dedication behind its Board, volunteers and committee members have helped keep us going,” she said.
The organization was founded in 1878 by a group of women who felt the arts were of important value and wanted to preserve them. She looks forward to preserving their mission and promoting the arts.